New Palace Pier walkie

New Palace Pier, St Leonards. Hastings July 25. 1938This walking picture was taken on the New Palace Pier at St. Leonard’s on Sea in Hastings. Most walkies were kept as souvenirs but this card was posted out by Mary and Tom on July 25. 1938 which dates it nicely. “Is there anybody here you recognise?” is all they’ve written on the card, which they posted off to a Mrs. Hogg in Burnhope, Co. Durham.
The pier had, according to a contemporary advert, been “virtually rebuilt in 1933 and further improved each year since” with “modern bars, dance pavilion and café seating nearly 1,000, with up-to-date kitchens, furniture and effects” and “extensive amusement arcades amongst the largest on the south coast”.
It looks as if it had a walking picture business as well, though no company name is printed on the card. Their kiosk can clearly be seen on the left of the photograph. It’s possible to work out that the sign reads ‘Walking pictures taken here ready in one (or the?) hour’. Because the firm was working in a small area and had plenty of potential customers, they could offer a faster turn around than most walkie firms.
The kiosk was the seaward side of the large central dance hall which dominated the pier at this time, and behind them you can see the reverse of the Palace Pier sign which faced the town – as in this contemporary view of the pier.
The photograph was taken just over a year before WW2 began. In 1939 the pier was shut and requisitioned by the military. In 1940 a section of it was removed as a defence measure, as happened with Hastings Pier. In October that year it suffered damage from a bomb attack, leaving it semi-derelict, and severe gales in early February 1943 caused more damage. Finally it caught fire in March 1944. There was no interest from the council after the war – perhaps it was felt that nearby Hastings Pier was enough – and they began demolition in 1951.

St Leonards new palace pier Hastings


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